Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: One in a billion

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  • Richard Wain,

    Gareth Thomas is still playing pro rugby for Cardiff, in the same side as Xavier Rush I believe. Just retired from Tests.

    The Tonight news show on TV1 has a BBC piece on him coming up this evening, around 11pm (Tuesday night - half an hour or so away from time of posting).

    Lovely accent he's got too - but man he looks like a munter. And he sure has the worst tryscoring celebrations.

    Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    After thinking and discussing with my statistically adept partner: 0.36 is the probability of there being a gay player on the team if they are selected at random form the general population. And no matter what you might think of Graham Henry I'm fairly sure he doesn't do that.

    The same goes for the average 8.8 players per year who join the All Blacks (1,100 players over 125 years). There is a probability of 0.125 of one of them being a gay player only if they are selected at random from the general population.

    Yamis above calculated that there are ~350 players in the Air New Zealand Cup and that 4 or 5 would be gay. If the All Blacks are selected from this group the chances of those four or five being one of the 8.8 selected each year?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    After thinking and discussing with my statistically adept partner: 0.36 is the probability of there being a gay player on the team if they are selected at random form the general population. And no matter what you might think of Graham Henry I'm fairly sure he doesn't do that.

    This is not strictly true. All it assumes that being gay is uncorrelated with ability or enthusiasm for playing first class rugby.

    That is, Henry presumably selects them very carefully (most likely based on their propensity for choking in World Cup matches), but I am assuming that this selection process is entirely uncorrelated with their sexual orientation. (Replace "being gay" with "has a birthday in January" and a similar argument would hold).

    If you want to argue that it IS correlated, then you also have to provide some justification for that, and the sign of the correlation could go in either direction -- it is certainly plausible that closeted gay men would find playing rugby to be excellent camouflage, precisely because its culture is not known for its inclusiveness toward homosexuality.

    (That correlation may be a function of time, too, given changing attitudes towards homosexuality in New Zealand over the last 30 years).

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out in 2007 after he retired, rightfully says that the problem now becomes that Thomas is not seen as some great Welsh rugby hero, but as "that guy who was gay".

    You know, there's something that really really fucks me off about statements like that. Now matter how well the LA Lakers do, I'd rather be "that guy who is gay" than "that guy who can buy his way out of a civil suit for sexual assault". If I've got to explain which one of those a man should be ashamed of, you're never going to get it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    I think you’re all focussing too much on the elite level. No professional coach would give a flying toss about sexual orientation.

    It’s what happens to the 16 / 17 year-old that weights the stats at the elite level. That’s the age where the prejudice is probably at its worst, and any gay athletes at that age have got enough to be thinking about to put up with that kind of shit. Note it’s not just guys who give up sport at that age.

    And by the time they feel more comfortable with things, and the prejudice isn’t as acute it’s probably too late for a professional career. But not too late to take up officiating.

    I know, that’s broad strokes, but that’s my take.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The same goes for the average 8.8 players per year who join the All Blacks (1,100 players over 125 years). There is a probability of 0.125 of one of them being a gay player only if they are selected at random from the general population.

    Yer assumptions are bunk again. The All Blacks first played in 1884. They then didn't play again until 1893. They didn't play from 1914 until 1920 or from 1938 until 1946. There's only about 100 years that the All Blacks actually played.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • pollywog,

    if i was young and gay i'd have been playing rugby from day one and seeing how far i could go cos c'mon, rugby players are hot and rugged and steamy in a way soccer players are not.

    i mean true or false...sebastian chabal is PHWOOOOOARRRR!!!

    somewhere else • Since Dec 2009 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Okay, here's my problem. Look at the survey the 1.5% comes from. Yes, I think it's inaccurate because of the way the survey was done - but on the low side, not the high side.

    But your 1.5% is the rate of out gay men. It tells you how likely there is to have been an out gay All Black, assuming no bias in rugby. It tells you nothing about the chances of there having been a closeted gay All Black. And as Richard said, there's simply no way to get a number for that.*

    Also, what's the basis for not including bisexual men? Which I guess is another way of saying, what are you trying to say here? Because surely the same things about prejudice and role-modelling apply. (Also, I did see it, and my stereotype will tell you 'can't get no love' is so not our problem.)

    *Unless you could get good figures for the incidence of the genetic and environmental conditions that produce teh gayz.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    *Unless you could get good figures for the incidence of the genetic and environmental conditions that produce teh gayz.

    Not even then, since I think part of the argument here is that rugby discourages participation by gay men. I don't think it'd ever be possible to disambiguate that factor, without getting rid of the homophobia first.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    part of the argument here is that rugby discourages participation by gay men

    Sorry, I meant as a rate in the general population, an equivalent of that '1.5%'. It's still really too early for me to be properly coherent, and I can see it doesn't read that way.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    only if they are selected at random from the general population.

    You keep saying this as if your wild speculation about selection against gay elite rugby players has any validity.

    Even arguing that there is prejudice at the 16/17 year old level is just speculation and not based on any real data. Given what I've seen of teenagers they are even less concerned about homosexuality than us old farts. Yes they might tease about it but they tease about anything but actual real prejudice - nope haven't seen any real evidence that it any worse than our generation.

    Seriously dude just drop this one. You have no proof other than speculation and the stats would argue strongly against your thesis.

    Time to just give up say you are probably wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Amy,

    Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    *Unless you could get good figures for the incidence of the genetic and environmental conditions that produce teh gayz.

    And then do the linkage disequilibrium analysis to identify linked traits, lol.

    In english.

    You'd need to find the genes (probably several) that correlate with genetic homosexuality and the genes that respond to environmental factors that modulate the trait (homosexuality), again several more genes.

    Then you'd need to find the genes (probably several) that correlate with elite Rugby performance and the genes that respond to environmental factors that modulate that trait.

    Then you need to do a large enough genotyping study to show that the homosexuality related genes and the elite rugby related genes are found apart more often than they are found together.

    By the way such a study would reveal a social separation of those genes even if no genetic separation existed. To say I'm really dubious that any such separation of traits exists would be putting it mildly. But being a good scientist I won't exclude the possibility - I will giggle though.

    Just as an aside we are probably only a decade or two away from actually being able to do the above studies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You keep saying this as if your wild speculation about selection against gay elite rugby players has any validity.

    I can't comment on rugby, but in my sport, coming out at that age to your team mates... It probably wouldn't get you beaten up, but your sporting life would completely change. Some coaches and teams would select you, but I'm confident that others would be a lot less enlightened. And some of your team mates would sure as hell make your life a lot harder.

    Particularly at the senior youth level. It's not very enlightened in those changing rooms at 14 - 18.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Hmmm. My review of the people I know who actually play rugby or league - my sample isn't huge but is made up of working class PI's & provincial Pakeha - suggest the "being comfortable" in the Public Address Liberal sense with a gay player is a little way off yet.

    Views were mixed and rather contradictory, but it seemed that being gay would be OK if you were "our" gay guy and you were gay only in the abstract. Quentin Crisp need not apply. On the other hand, it seems that a significant number of players would regard an openly gay opponent as fair game for the extra hard hit, the slightly more aggressive fend, the extra shove in the back. All in all then, a good old fashioned sense of Kiwi fair go and and empiricism would apply, but only up to a point.

    It seems to me that at the elite level a gay player is protected by multiple eyes. Further, the players who make it to elite level are I think atypical of the cultural type that makes up the vast ranks of ordinary players so it is pointless to try and extrapolate from the prevalent attitudes at elite level to try and work out how many players are gay.

    My anecdotal research indicates that at lower levels of the game it would cause a helluva lot less fuss to stay in the closet, unless you don't mind being singled out for a bit extra attention. All in all, I would suggest that rugby culture isn't generally gay friendly and so I agree with Haydn - rugby players are a self selecting and pretty much heterosexual group.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • uroskin,

    Mr Thomas, welcome home.

    Considering the blood and guts image of rugby I'd posit that only gay men with an interest in SM would be attracted to the playing the game, which would somewhat limit the appeal to gay people in general.

    Waiheke Island • Since Feb 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Actually I suppose it boils down to a pretty simple equation really. Rugby in particular is a sport which self consciously propagates masculine values. If you don't buy into those values, then you'll go do something else.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    So your argument boils down to gays are effeminate?

    I give you... Gareth Thomas. Self consciously masculine and apparently gay...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's pretty much impossible to become an All Black unless you've zeroed in on rugby and shown uncommon talent since long before adolescence, and more likely have a peculiar single-mindedness (I happen to know just one such guy, although I can't share the details). Unless somehow growing into a gay man cured you of the rugby bug, I just can't see every gay player with the requisite amount of talent that statistically must have existed in the history of the sport in this country having made the choice of simply giving up rugby, or jeopardising their shot at the elite level by coming out. My feeling is that there must have been a number of closeted All Blacks.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    So your argument boils down to gays are effeminate?

    Did I say that? No. What I said was you have to buy into a self consciously male culture to succeed.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Wilson,

    As much as I enjoy a good old statistical analysis, there's another, possibly more accurate, way to approach this question. Go back and study everything that's known about the lives of all 1100 capped ABs and make an educated guess whether they're gay or not. Might be hard to do, especially for the early years, but there might be enough publicly available information to then be able to extrapolate what the statistics really are. Then we could try to answer some of the questions about how the statistics really compare to the general population - maybe publish a paper with PASers as author :-) A pretty shitty paper unfounded by hard science, but I've seen worse.

    California, USA • Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    everything that's known about the lives of all 1100 capped ABs and make an educated guess whether they're gay or not

    A list of 'confirmed bachelors' with 'longtime companions'? :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Did I say that? No. What I said was you have to buy into a self consciously male culture to succeed.

    No you didn't say that, and it was an admittedly cheap shot. But you did pretty much say that gays are much much less likely to buy into a self consciously masculine culture.

    And Gareth Thomas is a counter example of a highly masculine gay man. As are an unquantifiable number of closeted rugby playing gays who, as he did, use that masculine culture to portray themselves as masculine.

    Your argument (and, I think, Hayden's) relies on very very few closeted gays buying into a masculine culture. And your evidence is what? That we don't see any masculine closeted gays?

    But we do see masculine gays who are out, so why the assumption that there aren't any still in the closet?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    It's pretty much impossible to become an All Black unless you've zeroed in on rugby and shown uncommon talent since long before adolescence

    I don't think that's true at all. Ali Williams for one didn't pick up an oval ball until he was about 17 from memory.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    1 in a billion?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

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